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Tajikistan & Afghanistan Trekking & Riding Adventure
This three week horse riding and trekking adventure allows you the time to dig in and fully experience the magnificence of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Head into the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges as you travel by jeep, horse, and foot through this marvellous and little-visited region.
- Tour the Pamir Highway by Jeep
- Horse ride the length of the Langar Valley
- Enjoy a home stay in a typical Tajik village
- Explore parts of the ancient silk route
- Camp next to gorgeous alpine lakes in the high Pamirs
- See spectacular mountain wildlife like the grey wolf, red fox, ibex, and Afghan urial
You’ll fly into Dushanabe and head straight for the board town of Ishkishim. Here you’ll prep for the next five days of self-sufficiency before making your way in to the Wakhan Corridor. With great views of Noshaq, Afghanistan’s highest peak, you’ll be following the footsteps of Hsuan Tsang and Marco Polo as you cross a section of the ancient silk route.
Week one ends with four days of camping and trekking near Khandud. This is the perfect opportunity for spotting wildlife like the grey wolf, red fox, ibex, and Afghan urial. If you’re lucky you’ll even spot some Marco Polo sheep.
Back in Tajikistan you’ll visit Kah-Kaha fortress, the Buddhist stupa at Vrang, the 3rd century fortress of Wakhani, and the sacred hot springs at Bibi Fatima Zahra. As you head into week three you’ll meet your horses at Zaval to ride the length of the Langar Valley to Chapdara Lake and then on to Zarojkul Lake. During these riding days you’ll have a chance to meet local shepherds and get an up close view of some yak. As you make your way out of the mountains at the end of the week, there’s a chance to take a dip in the Kawg Hot Springs.
Days 1 – 2 Dushanbe – Kalaikhum – Khorog
After collecting guests from the airport we head straight out of Dushanbe driving along the Pamir Highway towards the town of Khorog. We will overnight in Kalaikhum before taking a rest day in Khorog, nestling on the banks of the Panj River. We will stay overnight at a local homestay and begin to acclimatise to the mountains and explore this typical Tajik town of the Pamirs.
Please note – if we need visas for Afghanistan for any of the group we go straight to Khorog in one long day and have a rest day in Khorog.
Total driving: 14 – 16 hours
Altitude Dushanbe: 800m
Altitude Khorog: 2100m
Day 3 Khorog to Ishkishim (preparation)
We will drive to the border town of Ishkishim and cross over into Afghanistan. Once in Ishkishim we will be staying at a guesthouse converted from the home of a local man. With the help of the Aga Khan Foundation local families are earning a little extra income this way.
We spend one whole day in Ishkishim with our guide, making the final preparations and collecting our permits for the Wakhan region. Once we have left Ishkishim we will have to be self sufficient for 5 days and we need this day to ensure we have everything arranged. The guests will have time to explore the local environment and understand some of the Wakhi culture through our Wakhi guide.
Driving: 3 hours
Day 4 Ishkishim – Khandud
The 120km drive from Ishkishim to Khandud takes us along the narrowest section of the Wakhan Corridor. Passing the 7492m high Noshaq, Afghanistan’s highest peak, we will follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo and Hsuan Tsang on this ancient silk route.
We will have to stop in the village of Khandud to process some further paperwork and we plan to overnight here as well.
Driving: 6-8 hours
Days 5 – 8 Wildlife spotting near Khandud (trekking)
Four days spent trekking and camping in one of the side valleys close to Khandud. The exact location depends on which seems best for wildlife spotting. Following the routes and campsites used by the wildlife conservation teams we will be on the look out for grey wolf, red fox, Afghan urial, ibex and if we’re very lucky Marco Polo sheep. The golden marmots can hardly be missed and the snow leopard exists but is rarely seen.
Trekking days will be 4-6 hours
Altitude: up to 4000m
Day 9 Khandud – Ishkishim
The drive back to Ishkishim should be relatively smooth at this time of year as the river levels are lower after the summer snow melt. Once back in Ishkishim there will be time to rest and say goodbye to our Wakhi guides.
Driving: 4-5 hours
Day 10 – Ishkishim – Langar
We cross back into Tajikistan and head back up the Wakhan Corridor – this time on the relatively developed Tajik side. En route visiting Kah-Kaha fortress in Namadgut, the home and solar calender pillar of the Sufi Muborak Qadami Wakhani, the Buddhist stupa of Vrang, the sacred hot springs of Bibi Fatima Zahra and the 3rd century BC fortress of Yamchun. The whole road offers spectacular views and gives and real sense that this road was the gateway from Central Asia to China. The real silk road.
You will overnight in Langar, just over the river from Khandud but with a very different feel
Driving: 5-8 hours
Day 11 Langar – Bulunkul
We will travel to the Yashil Kul Lakes and the small hamlet of Bulunkul. It is a rough but spectacular road crossing the 4300 metre high Khargushi Pass with incredible views of the snow capped Wakhan range. The road is sparcely populated and is a good place to catch a glimpse of wildlife.
Bulunkul is home to both Pamiri Tajiks and Kyrgyz shepherds, their yurts mark their presence on the bleakly beautiful landscape.
We will overnight in a homestay.
Driving: 6-8 hours
Altitude: 3740 metres
Day 12 – Bulunkul – Zaval – Kyrgyz-shabar
A drive along the side of Lake Yashikul to where we will meet our horses and horse riding team at the Zaval, the Russian built dam. From there we cross over the low pass that seperates the Ghund and Alichur rivers. It is a long days ride along the length of the Langar valley to the Kyrgyz encampment of Kyrgyz-shabar. Langar is an old Persian word meaning free buffet and is often given to areas that the shepherds can graze their animals.
Horse trekking: 5-7 hours
Day 13 – Kyrgyz-shabar – Chapdarkul
A long day, uphill along the langar valley. Finally we reach the shores of the alpine lake of Chapdara – literally the Left hand lake.
Horse trekking: 6-7 hours
Day 14 – Chapdarkul – Kulin Lakes
An easy day on the horse as we make our way down to the Kulin Lakes. En route you will meet local shepherds with their sheep, goats and yaks. We will find a great place to camp by the lakes.
Horse trekking: 3-4 hours
Day 15 – Kulin Lakes – Vikhinj
Another day passing two small shepherd encampments on our way down from the Kulin lakes to another lakeside camp at Vikhinj. There will be a chance to meet some of the local shepherds, sample their local yogurt and buy typical Pamiri woolen socks.
Horse trekking: 3-4 hours
Day 16 – Vikhinj – Zarojkul Lake
Another day in the high Pamirs. This time heading back upwards towards possible the grandest of all the alpine lakes – Zarojkul. It is possible to meet traders from Bartang here.
Horse trekking:5-6 hours
Day 17 – Zarojkul Lake – Kawg Hot Springs
We will begin our descent out of the mountains. Stopping at Tshakin lake and camping just below the Kawg Hot Springs.
Horse trekking: 4-6 hours
Day 18 – Kawg Hot Springs – Bachor – Khorog
An early start on our final day of riding as we head to the home village of our horse guides – Bachor. There we will say goodbye to our horse guides and drive back to Khorog.
Horse trekking: 4-6 hours
Days 19 Khorog
A full day in Khorog. This can be used as a spare day if there are delays anywhere en route. If not it is a well earned rest day following the horse riding excursions.
Days 20 & 21 – Khorog to Dushanbe
We head back up the Pamir highway to Dushanbe stopping again at Kalaikhum on the return journey.
Day 22 – Fly home
We will ensure that you are taken to the airport to catch your flight.
You will be accompanied by an experienced international team leader from the tour operator for the entire length of this trip. Please note, the itinerary is what we hope to achieve on this trip – the actual route in the Afghan Pamir can vary due to weather or other restrictions.
We do not directly arrange international flights to Tajikistan. We run our Wakhan trips to coincide with the regular Turkish Airlines flights from Europe to Dushanbe, which is the most practical route into Tajikistan.
You will need Double entry Tajikistan visa with GBAO permit and an Afghan Visa for this trip. We will assist with advice on how best to obtain these visas as visa requirements vary from country to country.
The Wakhan region of Afghanistan is a very remote area in one of the least developed countries in the world. Please ensure that your insurance covers you both for visiting Afghanistan and for rescue in the Wakhan region of Afghanistan. If you have any questions about which insurance company to select please contact us.
Outside of Dushanbe options will be limited and once we are on the horse trek we will only be able to eat what we bring with us, or barter for from the nomadic people. Any specific allergies or dietary requirements can be accommodated if we are given prior warning.
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing a room when that is available. When we are in the Wakhan area we will be staying in tents and in local guesthouses that sometimes only offer central communal areas to sleep in. When outside of Khorog we will stay in local homestays.
We always check the vehicles we use thoroughly before each trip. In Afghanistan we use four-wheel drive vehicles and take with us a satellite phone should the vehicle develop a fault.
When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. Your comfort and enjoyment of the journey is the first priority.
For this trip we use team leaders from the tour operator who have experience of guiding in the Wakhan. In addition to these experienced leaders we will be working with local guides and porters.
Trips to Afghanistan do create dangers all of their own and whilst we want you to have as much freedom as possible we must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas that we consider to be relatively stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.
Dates: 15th August – 5th September 2016
Rates: from 2,600 GBP
- All accommodation
- All food in Afghanistan
- All meals in Tajikistan (except Khorog and Dushanbe)
- Local guides
- Permits to visit the Wakhan region
- Any necessary visas
- Entrance fees
- Lunch and dinner in Dushanbe and Khorog
Specialists in trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus, this operator aims to add positive benefit to the areas visited by ensuring that whenever possible, the money goose directly to the people of the region. In their words “”small scale tourism might not change the world but every path starts with a single step’.
The founders met as intrepid travel guides in the mountains of Afghanistan and bonded over a shared passion to enable other people to experience the beauty of of Pakistan and Afghanistan, lands that are often described as dangerous and inhospitable.
Working with small groups of maximum 12 people and using specialist local guides throughout, their aim is to provide authentic and original experiences for all guests. This small number allows for greater security, flexibility and access to local people and places. Each set itinerary trip is individually designed to coincide with local events or to visit the area at the best time of year.
Tajikistan & Afghanistan Trekking & Riding Adventure
- Trip Code: AWA308
- Dates: 15th Aug – 5th Sept 2016
- Price: 2,600 GBP
- Depart: Dushanbe, Tajikistan
- Arrive: Dushanbe, Tajikistan
- Length: 22 days
- Adventure: A three week trekking and horse riding adventure into the mountains of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.